Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching

Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching

I'm a Personal Development Life Coach who specialises in L.I.F.E (Living Into your Fullest Expression). Based in Richards Bay, on the East Coast of South Africa, I live with my long-suffering husband, (his description!), two much-loved dogs and care for my elderly father who has Alzheimer's.

Read more about me here.
Wednesday, 29 March 2017 08:34

Shame on You!

The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.
Carl Jung

Raise your hand if you’ve ever messed up? And I’m talking about the biggies here, the raw, painful regrets we would happily delete from our inner hard-drive given the chance. I have a suspicion that hidden within pretty much all of us, lurks at least one shameful act, that if offered a do-over, we would grab with both hands... Or is it just me?

Shame is a very powerful emotion, one which Dr. Brené Brown, describes as the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging. It’s the most primitive human emotion we all feel and the one no one wants to talk about. So let’s buck the trend today and talk about it!

The thing about authenticity is that the moment you start trying to be fully yourself, you hit a wall of shame and vulnerability that has you wondering just what right you think you have to be yourself. It’s a crazy way of thinking, but no less agonising for it’s erroneous conclusions.

Of course, if you have done something you deeply regret, this process can be crippling. Our first instinct with shame is to hide. We go into lock down mode and hide, and not only from others, we bury shame deeply within our psyche so even we don’t have to think about it any more.

This no-go area inside ourselves becomes a mini war zone. Our defences go up and the more painful it is, the more defensive we become. As judge and jury of our actions, our certainty that we are inherently bad traps us even further. Everything becomes about staying safe and protecting this very vulnerable part of ourselves. The easiest way to do that is to isolate ourselves, or at the very least, shut down emotionally.

Life Coaching is about much more than achieving a goal. It’s about negotiating peace in our volatile and potentially dangerous inner world. Before you can go out there and get what you want, you have to know what it is you want. And to know that, you have to know more about who you are. All of you. The good, the bad and the ugly.

It’s here in this rather murky playground, as we learn to love what seems unlovable, that life coaching helps us discover what worthiness is truly about.
Wednesday, 15 March 2017 10:30

Fear of Missing Out!

When you fear missing out, you are missing the moment.
Styling the Inside

This year I've been on a mission to say YES to unexpected opportunities. It was going well until yesterday's FOMO (fear of missing out) experience! Some friends who live across country were visiting the St Lucia Wetlands. It’s less than an hour away from us and we arranged to meet at Monzi Golf Course. Although I’m no golfer, I decided to go along. There’s a fabulous Craft & Coffee Shop at the golf course and it sounded like a nice outing for the day.

We were in the car about to leave, when a message arrived confirming arrangements I’d made for that very same morning. My bad! I’d completely forgotten that a Horse Whisperer was coming to Richard’s Bay to work with a friend’s horse.

Here’s the low down, golf is soooo not my thing, too hot, too long, too boring, but horses, ... ah now that’s the stuff my dreams and happy memories are made of. And a Horse Whisperer in Richards Bay? That’s a small miracle in itself. Never mind FOMO, this was COMO; Certainty of Missing Out! I had to make an instant decision and with a heartfelt sigh, I chose golf.

Life is full of moments like this. We are asked to choose one course of action over another and it can be hard to know what to do. Once we’ve chosen, we still have to deal with the emotional backlash from our decision, be it regret, disappointment or having to let go of a hoped for ideal.

 Life Coaching offers some useful tips for grappling with these kinds of choices:
1) Flex your gratitude muscle. Remind yourself how fortunate you are to have choices. A burst of positivity may be just what you need to regain perspective.
2) Bring creative problem-solving to the table. Is there a way to make this work for everyone involved? If not, see option four.
3) Take a longer term perspective. Which option will bring the most peace of mind over the long term?
4) Breathe. Sometimes we have a hard choice to make and simply have to breathe through the emotions. We are being asked to accept reality as it is, not as we would like it to be. The best we can do is hold our seat and ride out the storm remembering that this too shall pass.
5) Make a decision and don’t look back. No ‘what if’ing’, no self doubt, decision made. Full stop.

Have you had a FOMO moment? Please share your experiences!
Monday, 27 February 2017 00:00

Loves me not?

An act of love that fails is just as much a part of the divine life as an act of love that succeeds,
for love is measured by fullness, not by reception.
Harold Lokes

A client and I were talking about unrequited love during a coaching session. Loving someone who doesn’t love you back, or stops loving you, is incredibly painful. It’s one thing to experience in your youth, but later in life, when it involves divorce, children, and splitting shared assets, it becomes much more complicated.

For most of us, rejection is the most painful experience to go through and the fear of rejection can be crippling. In one of those startling, ‘coaching-sessions-mimics-real-life scenarios’, two days before this discussion, I had experienced a vivid reminder of just how painful rejection can be.

Having recently reconnected, on Facebook, with a few people I had lost touch with more than twenty years ago, I was happily mulling over the rich tapestry of life. I was thinking how although people come and go, their impact remains a part of the very fabric of who we are.

In this frame of mind, I thought nothing of sending a friend request to a long lost ex-boyfriend. He had re-appeared quite out the blue as a friend of a friend when we both commented on a post. You can meet him here: Mr Gorgeous! If the truth be told, I thought nothing of sending it ... until  the moment I hit the the send button.

One minute I was smiling at wonderful memories, the next I was felled by a twenty-five year old wave of insecurity and shame. Time means nothing to fear. Fearful emotions can be experiencing as intensely, in the present moment, as they were felt in the past when the original painful or scary event happened.  In an instant I was thrown back to how I felt as a young woman facing her first heartbreak.

It’s at times like this that that we need to remember we are more than just emotional beings. We have to dig deep and call on our intelligence to bring balance. I’m here to remind you we can! With practice, we CAN channel our thoughts in a more helpful direction.

Reality checking is a good place to start, especially when fear is raging. Am I in danger? Has something actually happened? Breathing deeply with awareness calms our nervous systems and gives us a chance to pause and re-adjust. Sometime all we need to remember is that this feeling too shall pass and I will still be here when it does.

Love is about connection, it’s what drives human behaviour and what makes the experience of rejection so unbearable. Having a compassionate connection to ourselves in times of panic or rejection helps us keep our balance.

We do not have to abandon nor turn on ourselves just because someone else may have. Whether we are loved back or not, we CAN love, because it’s who we are. How empowering is that!
Thursday, 16 February 2017 06:58

The Web of Life

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive,
and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.
Anais Nin

In October last year, my husband’s uncle woke up one morning to legs that simply no longer worked. The prostate cancer he has been dealing with for 10 years spread to his spine. It hit the lumbar area first, leaving him paralysed but with enough mobility to get himself in and out of a wheelchair. By December, and after radiation treatment, he was able to stand and take some steps with the support of a walking aid. It was a devastating blow to wake up one morning, in January, unable to move his legs again. The cancer has spread further up his spine leaving him bedridden and not able to so much as turn over in bed.

In amongst this, something extraordinary has been taking place. A network of support spontaneously manifested around this one person. From the constant stream of friends who have appeared non-stop over the last few months, flying in, driving hours for a short visit, to the family who hosted him at a B&B that was the most wheelchair friendly option available, the support has been astounding. Family members stepped up in such a variety of ways to help and three amazing caregivers arrived and stayed as long as they were needed.

What struck me most was how each person contributing in their own way became part of a powerful network of care. This is the web of life Fritjof Capra talks about in his fascinating book of the same name. Each person simply being themselves, offering what comes easily to them, created a space in which what needed to happen somehow happened. From transport, to nutritional supplements, a tablet with an internet connection for entertainment, and a gorgeous little dog for company, strangers, friends, family, medical professionals and paid employees showed up to make the best of a bad situation. Together, we are so much more.

Relationships are extraordinary, the connection between, not just us, but between humans, animals and our environment is at the heart of life. It is the very fabric of our existence. We have an impact, our small mundane everyday choices matter. They change the world around us and they are enough. We don’t have to make grand gestures and huge statements, we don’t even have to know exactly what we are doing. but we do need to care. By caring about others and about the world around us, we begin to experience the interconnection of everything. It’s an extraordinary world to enter.
Tuesday, 31 January 2017 07:29

Work Life Balance

It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?
Henry David Thoreau

Towards the end of last year, the local Business Women Association invited me to run a morning workshop on Work Life Balance. The turnout for the event was the best attendance for the year. It’s an indication of how many of us are struggling to fit everything we need to into our day.

Busyness is often seen as something that happens TO us; it’s not our fault and it’s something that is outside of our control. After all, there are only so many hours in the day, right? The truth is, BECAUSE there are only so many hours in the day, it really has to be our decision as to how we spend the precious hours that we have.

During the Work Life Balance Workshop we looked into the decision making process we use to allocate our time and energy. Most of us have an ‘on demand’ prioritising mechanism. We tackle what is yelling most loudly for our attention and repeat until exhaustion sets it!

Changing this behaviour comes down to changing the decisions that we make, and while this sounds simple, it often isn’t. Guilt, poor time management and an inability to say no, all impact our lives and choices. So what can we do if we are struggling to prioritise?

A helpful tip I came across recently is to look at situations demanding our attention in terms of the expected return on investment. We often approach financial decisions from this longer term point of view but we don’t apply the same principles to daily life decisions. Where can I invest my hard-earned money to get the best return on investment? Rephrase that question to: Where  can I put my valuable time and energy to get the best return on investment over the long term?

Health is often a much overlooked area to give attention to. Are we eating life-sustaining food or grabbing a pie and coke when we’re starving? Are we relaxing and getting enough sleep? Do our families get the best of us, or the exhausted worst of us? Most importantly, are we happy with our choices and behaviour?

Sometimes we have to take a short term hit to get a long term benefit. Rest is like that. We stop now but gain the benefit over time when we come back refreshed and recharged. At the start of 2017, now is the time to look forward, keeping a longer term perspective in mind. Busyness is an addiction, where are you choosing to invest your time and energy?
Monday, 16 January 2017 06:48

Listening with Love?

Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force.
The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.
Karl A. Menniger

Oh, the joy of being heard and understood! It’s particularly topical for me living with a father who has Alzhiemer’s. There are so many challenges with dementia and as brain function deteriorates, it becomes increasingly difficult for people with the disease to listen and understand even the simplest sentence.

Conversation becomes a frustrating battleground as the same discussions are repeated over and over, well for one of you, at least. Of course, the person with Alzheimer’s has no recollection of this topic being discussed before.

Two things happened recently that really brought home just how powerful listening can be. The first conversation was with a friend. We met for coffee and while catching up on each others lives, I shared some of the teeth-grinding difficulties Alzhiemer’s presents.

The friend responded by reminding me that getting cross with an Alzhiemer’s patient for forgetting, is like being cross with a blind person for not being able to see. A brilliant analogy, but one that left me feeling even worse about the numerous times I fail to be patient.

The second conversation happened spontaneously. Colt and I were at the vet, We were waiting for eye drops to dye Colt’s eye’s green so the vet could see if the eye infection was ulcerous. It wasn’t, but man a greened-eyed Colt is something to see!

While waiting, we discussed our Christmas holidays and I mentioned my father has Alzheimer’s. It turns out the vet’s mom has vascular dementia. I was talking to someone who gets it, he knows how hard it is. A few minutes of shared experience was like stumbling upon an oasis in the desert. He gave no advice and yet I came away feeling strengthened and inspired to keep going.

This is the power of listening. When we meet someone where they are, without advice and judgement, we give them the gift of understanding and of love. It is this that allows us to 'unfold and expand'. It’s a lesson I hope will change me for the better.

There are so many rules about how to be a good listener but one that stands out for me is connection. Finding a way to connect to what the other person is saying, in a way that touches us, has such a powerful impact. Oh, and get used to being uncomfortable, hearing what is being said without flinching, inwardly or outwardly, takes tremendous courage.

As we start 2017, be the person who holds the space of listening. It’s one of the greatest acts of kindness we can offer others.
Sunday, 08 January 2017 11:00

What a Start!

Remember tonight... for it is the beginning of always.
Dante Alghieri

2017 did not get off to the best start. On the night of the 29th Dec, while in Johannesburg with my sister, my father fell over a glass table. My sister’s birthday the next day, was spent waiting for x-rays and sonars to assess the damage to his shoulder. It’s bad and to cut a long story short, my father is booked for shoulder surgery this week.

Of course, this could only all be arranged once the New Year long weekend was over and the relevant doctors back from leave. So in the meantime, after securely strapping my dad’s arm in a sling, (which, btw,  takes an engineering degree to figure out!) we headed off to  my sister’s surprise birthday lunch with a rowdy bunch of her fabulous friends. It was such fun!

I’m a natural born ‘catastophizer’. Words like disaster, fantastic, terrible and fabulous are as much a part of my vocabulary as ‘and & but’ are. When something like this happens, it’s easy for me to talk about what a disaster our holiday turned into, but that’s not actually a true reflection of our ten days away.

One bad thing absolutely did happen and yes, there were a string of ramifications including having to cut a much-needed holiday short. However, we also had a wonderful Christmas, relaxed with family and friends, shopped, welcomed in the New Year on a gorgeous farm with dear friends and, all in all, had a really good time.

The tendency to focus on what goes wrong is habitual for most of us. We think and talk about bad stuff far more than we do good stuff... unless we’re in love... and for as long as that lasts! The more we focus on what’s wrong, the more bad stuff we see and the worse we feel. It’s an easy trap to fall into. We trick ourselves by thinking that focusing on what went wrong is a solution somehow. It isn’t. It’s a can of worms that turns into a Pandora’s box of negativity.

Applying the same principle to positivity is just as flawed, it’s as much a lie as focusing exclusively on the negative. We are far better served by reminding ourselves of a more balanced approach. Our holiday was neither fabulous nor a disaster but had moments of both within it. People are usually a mixture of awe-inspiring and soul-destroying in one confounding package. Remembering this paradoxical simultaneity is the tricky bit.

There is so much more to the world than it appears, things are often not what they seems and we cannot always trust our own impressions. Bridging the gap between things being either ‘like this’ or ‘like that’, is a world worth investigating.

Which brings me to my plan of action (POA) for the year, to hold life gently in the palm of an open hand and let it unfold. What’s your POA for 2017?
Friday, 23 December 2016 06:42

Merry Christmas

Wishing all my Christian friends and clients a very Merry Christmas and,
to everyone else, enjoy the Festive Season!

Thank you for your support throughout the year, it is much appreciated.
Saturday, 17 December 2016 06:17

Just Like That...

We're all snatching precious moments from the peaceful jaws of time.
Cressida Cowell

Last Sunday, just as we sat down to eat lunch, we heard that dreaded screech of tyres, followed by a series of loud bangs and crunch of metal. It’s a sound you instantly recognize as a car accident. The driver swerved to dodge a dog, lost control and the car rolled before hitting into a lamp post. In nothing short of a small miracle, the driver and the dog were both unhurt. The car, however, was written off.

It was such a reminder of how, just like that, in an instant, our lives can change completely. South Africa has an extremely high death toll on the roads during the festive season and with Christmas around the corner, it made me think of the many people who will be facing Christmas alone, and the families who will have their first Christmas without someone they love.

A few days later I was chatting with a client who found herself in a situation where the anniversary of her sibling’s death coincided with a joyful family celebration with her in-laws. It left her feeling confused and conflicted and our conversation highlighted a fundamental error most of us make.

We make the mistake of thinking we can EITHER feel happy OR sad. It’s the either / or dynamic raising it’s familiar face. The truth is we can feel a huge variety of emotions all at the same time. According to debate, it may not be scientifically at the exact same moment, but for all intents  and purposes, it certainly feels as if we are experiencing a kaleidoscope of emotions simultaneously.

So what do we do if we find ourself in this type of situation? My suggestion? Simply show up. Be there, feeling what you are feeling, no matter what it is you are feeling. There will be sad moments. You may need to lock yourself in the bathroom and howl every now and then,  but that is not all there will be. There will also be moments of happiness, a shared smile, a connection, a memory that touches your heart, even the creation of a new memory that gives you strength and hope.

We all have the capacity to be happy for other people and we can cultivate that spirit of rejoicing in the happiness of others, without having to deny our  own experience. It is not either / or. We can soften and expand ourselves to encompass both sadness and happiness, without pressurizing ourselves to choose one or the other. Don’t underestimate your power to love. We truly are so much stronger than we think and so much greater than we realize.
Wednesday, 30 November 2016 10:06

That's a Fact!

Some rules are nothing but old habits that people are afraid to change.
Therese Anne Fowler

There's an interesting phenomenon that I’ve noticed in coaching. I often find myself coaching two clients with similar issues that are causing them difficulties, but here is the kicker, they are coming at the issue from completely different angles. It usually happens with an age old male / female scenario and, sometimes I’m almost tempted to introduce the clients to each other and see how that conversation pans out!

In reality, I find myself nodding my head at what male clients say, because that is exactly what my husband says. With female clients, I’m nodding because it’s exactly what I would have said... if I hadn’t been talking about those very issues with a male client. Hmmm!

There is one particular session in the coaching programme where this all comes to a head and it’s when we talk about rules. We all have them, you know the... if you loved me you would...  fill in the blank. It’s interesting to stop and look at some of the rules we didn’t even know we had.

A majority of all disagreements can be traced back to different rules. It’s like we are talking a different language, and the tragedy of different rules is that, very often, our best efforts to show love and care are completely ignored or misinterpreted by the person we are showing love and care for.

For example, if a man, who shows care by working hard to provide for his family, has a wife with a rule that if you love me, you would want to spend time with me, it can cause all sorts of trouble.

Imagine how different the world would be, if instead of changing partners, we were able to change the rules that weren’t working for us? So here is your homework for the week. Ask! Ask yourself what your rules for love are and then ask the people you love what their rules are. It’s a simple question, how do you know that you are loved? What has to happen for you to feel loved?

Some people need to hear it, some people need to be shown it and for others it can be far more complex or more simple. Once you know, decide if the rule is something that enhances your ability to feel loved or blocks it and needs to be let go of. Use that knowledge to do more of whatever makes it easier to be happy. How is that for a fabulous new rule!
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